How To Test and Improve Your Body Composition
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How To Test and Improve Your Body Composition

August 24, 2019

– Many people dread stepping
on the bathroom scale. It can be really frustrating
and disheartening to exercise a lot and eat really healthy and then step on the scale and see the number remain the same. However, just because your
body weight isn’t changing, it doesn’t mean your hard
work isn’t paying off. Especially if you are
doing a lot of exercise, it’s likely that your body
composition has changed. In this video I’m looking
at what body composition is and how you can improve yours. (twinkling) While the scale will tell
you how much you weigh, it doesn’t tell you what
your body’s made of. Body composition refers to
everything in your body, split up into different compartments. Now, two compartments are commonly used: Fat mass and fat-free mass. Now, fat mass refers to all
the fat tissue in your body. Fat-free mass is everything else, including muscle, organs, bone, and fluid. Now, if both of them change at once, you might not see any
changes in your body weight. For example, if you start exercising, you may gain two pounds of
muscle in the first month. Now, at the same time, you
may lose two pounds of fat due to burning more calories through exercise or changes in your diet. Now, since your fat-free mass increased by the same amount as
your fat mass decreased, your body weight won’t change. If you focus on the number on the scale, you may become discouraged or frustrated because your program, you know,
doesn’t seem to be working, even though it is. This is just one example of why knowing your body composition is much more useful than strictly relying on body weight. So, how can you assess it? There are many methods to
asses your body composition. Some are really simple and easy to use and others are quite complicated. One technique is tracking
the circumference of different body parts. You may have had your waist
circumference measured with a flexible tape measure
at the doctor’s office. At home you can also
track the circumference of other body parts, such as your hips, your arms, legs, or chest. You can make these measurements using a cheap and flexible tape measure. While a change in circumference
can’t tell you exactly if your fat mass or
fat-free mass is changing, it can give you an idea. For example, decreases
in waist circumference are typically a sign that
you’re losing belly fat. Gram for gram, fat takes
up more space than muscle. This means your waist
circumference may decrease when you lose fat, even if
your weight doesn’t change. As another example, if you’re
exercising a lot with weights, an increase in arm circumference would usually indicate that
your muscle mass is increasing. The next option is
taking progress pictures. Now, it’s often difficult to
notice changes in your body from one day to the
next but taking pictures of your body every few weeks or months, can be one way to assess
how your body is changing. Again, this doesn’t give
you exact information but it gives you a really good idea of how your body is
changing in size and shape. Lastly, there are also devices you can buy that measure body composition. Many of these devices
use a technology called bioelectrical impedance analysis, or BIA. BIA sends small electrical
currents through your body to see how much your
body resists the current. This information is used to predict your body fat percentage. Now, while it is nice
to see an actual number for your body fat percentage, many of these devices
aren’t terribly accurate. In fact, research has shown that the common hand-held BIA unit underestimates body fat percentage by about eight to 10 percent compared to more accurate research tools. What’s more is factors
food and water intake before using these devices can
make the results inaccurate. If you do use a BIA device, make sure you use it in the morning before you eat or drink anything and to make it a useful measurement just make sure each time
you do do the measurement you do it at the same time
on the same day of the week. So, if you do it on the
first Monday of every month in the morning, keep that consistent. And then you have a good measure of a baseline, before and after. How to your improve your body
composition with nutrition. So your body composition is made up of fat mass and fat-free mass. Now, you can improve it by
either reducing fat mass or increasing fat-free
mass, which muscle, or both. Any of these changes
will lead to a decrease in your total body fat percentage, which is seen as the main number to describe your body composition. Now, to change body composition
a good place to start is with some basic
principles of nutrition. Now, although they aren’t
the only thing that matters, calories are one of the most
important factors to consider. In simple terms, if you consistently eat more calories than your body uses, you will gain weight, typically as fat. Likewise, if you consistently
eat fewer calories than your body uses, you will lose weight. After you consider how
many calories you eat, think about how much protein and fiber is in your diet as well. Protein is important for
everyone but you may need more if you are active or trying
to gain muscle or lose fat. These are more satisfying
than carbs or fat and your body also burns more calories processing protein than
these other nutrients. Fiber also has several health benefits and can increase the feelings of fullness and satisfaction after meals. It’s really important
for us to eat more fiber and it can be obtained from
plant-based food sources, like fruits, vegetables,
nuts, seeds, and legumes. How to improve your body composition with physical activity and exercise. Of course, physical activity and exercise are other crucial components for improving your body composition. They not only increase
the calories you use, but they are also necessary
for optimal muscle growth. Since body composition can be improved by decreasing fat mass or
increasing muscle mass, this is an important point. It’s recommended to
choose forms of exercise that will also build muscle
while you’re losing fat. Your muscles need to be
challenged by exercise, particularly by weight training,
to grow and get stronger. So if you’re engaging in
this type of exercise, such as, you know, weight
training, body pump classes, or even resistant weight training, then you need to be thinking about how can I assess and
measure my body composition, not just body weight. Ultimately, stepping on the scale is only gonna measure your weight. You can get a much more
accurate and bigger picture by assessing body composition, or how much fat mass and
muscle mass you have. Thanks for watching, make
sure to give this video a thumbs up if you found it informative and don’t forget to subscribe to Healthline’s Authority
Nutrition Youtube Channel by clicking the red subscribe
button below the video. (gentle electronic music)

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Yo, this video came right on time! I've been exercising for 11 days now and I haven't lost much weight and I felt so upset cause I worked so hard at the Gym and I decreased my calorie intake and focused on eating more protein, fruits and veggies, but this video makes sense, plus I've noticed some change around my waist so yeah, I gotta keep going!!

  2. Thank you! What about DEXA scans? Is that similar/same as the BIA method you mentioned? There is portable DEXA scan company in our area, want to know if method is accurate.

  3. If you are looking for at home easy BMI measurement using a hightech BIA, try the OneSmartDiet device and app. Of course, use it at the same time, the same way every week. Don't get discourgaged!

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